What became of 5G?

July 16, 2020
What became of 5G

5G was supposed to go mainstream in 2020 and it was expected that a large part of the world would have been enjoying the benefits of this super-fast technology by the end of this year. Major phone companies that had been working on rolling out handsets facilitating 5G were also supposed launch devices supportive of this technology. After so much hype and backing, things didn’t go as planned; let’s find out how and why 5G connectivity hasn’t been able to penetrate in the market as expected:

The novel coronavirus can be blamed in part for it!

5G is reliant on network availability and handsets. The disruptions in the rollout can largely be attributed to coronavirus, as due to the virus not only were the phone companies made to shut down, the conspiracy revolving around the virus and 5G have also made the public susceptible to this technology. Conspiracy theories on social media have been successful in changing people’s perspective in relation to this technology, where 5G antennas around the world were taken down violently.

The basis of this conspiracy theory was an article published in the Belgian newspaper that argued that the spread of coronavirus can be attributed to the high-frequency 5G waves. Even though there was no significant research that could back these claims. This, along with rumors about 5G being government propaganda seriously made people oppose this technology.

A social network study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research analyzed tweets exchanged in relation to COVID-19 and 5G conspiracy theory. According to results 35% of tweets supported the conspiracy theory, while 32% denounced it. Regardless of the robustness of the claim, it became a trending topic and drew a lot of traction.

Despite it being just a conspiracy, it spread like wildfire, leading to some serious consequences, especially in Europe where cell phone towers were burnt or brought down. Even though this technology is not only harmless as claimed by some of the most renowned scientists; but it has the potential to create stronger connectivity between different areas of the world.

Others have been busy exploring how the conspiracy evolved to provide plausible solutions to alter the opinions of so many people. One of the ways that can help fight this misinformation on Twitter is by not engaging with a conspiracy related tweet but instead reporting it. Another way is to engage public health officials to advise people against spreading this false information and instead, should help curb it by reporting it. Policymakers are also being engaged in an effort to bring these propaganda accounts down.

The reason why so many people were drawn to this conspiracy was because of how scientifically accurate it sounded. While it is true that the 5G network uses higher frequency waves than its predecessor (4G or 3G); these remain significantly lower than those of 5GHz Wi-Fi routers being used at home. Conspiracy theorists claim that high-frequency waves easily penetrate the cells in our body, thereby weakening them – which make us more susceptible to the virus. Scientists claim that the waves emitted by the 5G antennas are way lower than those of the ionizing radiation.

Industry players on the roll!

Carriers in the US, China and some other regions have continued to advance its coverage, while things remain uncertain in Europe and Canada.  Because of the pandemic, 5G spectrum auctions were delayed in Canada and the European Union, delaying the launch of 5G in some areas by a considerable period of time. According to CBC, the spectrum auction for Canada planned for December, will not be held before next summer.

As the demand for 5G smartphones rises, handset markets in China face intense competition, promoting manufacturers to bring down prices and increase other incentives.

The demand forecasts can mainly be attributed to the June 18 shopping carnival, when online platforms reported record sales of phones. JD, an e-commerce giant, boasted 1.5 billion yuan revenue for Smartphones, on day one of the sale; claimed that iPhone sales had surpassed 100 million yuan within the first five seconds of the sale going live.

Leading handset makers like Oppo have been introducing features such as recording videos in dark conditions facilitated by their 5G Smartphones. These features are being introduced in an effort to stand out during this transition phase. The said company has also made public their intention of limiting their launches to phones that support 5G connectivity.

Telecom companies seemed hard hit by the shutdowns, as they had to figure out ways to remotely manage workforce, resolve supply chain disruptions and build on existing networks. However, major players have dismissed such projections, claiming that the virus has only caused minor disruptions. In fact, according to the key players in the market, the pandemic has actually helped highlight the need for a speedier and higher-bandwidth network like 5G.

In these uncertain times, where social distancing and working from home has become the norm, 5G has the potential to support wireless technologies like automated factories and remote augmented reality training.

Companies such as T-Mobile are busy expanding their network to thousands of new sites. After announcing a nationwide 5G network, last year in December, it then merged with Sprint in a bid to enhance its 5G network efforts. But these efforts have only recently come to a halt and the companies have parted ways.

Furthermore, networks have been making maximum use of “software defined networks.” This means carrying out tasks remotely, such as updating and replacing systems. Better connectivity has reduced process times from 15 days to 15 minutes, without requiring much physical intervention.

So while the 5G network coverage has been halted by the novel virus in some places and ways, key players in the industry are adamant to advance its growth. Efforts across the globe are being made to bring this technology to the public in a smooth manner.